Oldest home in Crothersville moved out of town

CROTHERSVILLE — At least for now, the oldest home in Crothersville won’t become a historical site in the small southeastern Jackson County community.

At some point, a home had been built around a log cabin, which was owned by John Hamacher, who surveyed and founded the town in 1858.

On Monday, the home had been torn down and the cabin was removed from the property at 301 E. Main St.

During Tuesday night’s Crothersville Town Council meeting, town attorney Matt Lorenzo said the property owner, Mary Kelly, said during a recent court hearing that she was going to give the cabin to someone for $1.

A week before that hearing, the council approved making a starting offer of $10,000 and maxing it out at $15,000.

“So she turned down the town’s offer for that, but on the plus side, the town does not have to spend any money to make it safe now,” Lorenzo said.

Lorenzo and Clerk-Treasurer Danieta Foster had made three court appearances in regards to the property because the home had been determined unsafe and the property was unkempt for several years.

During the most recent court date, Kelly was given until November to clean up the property. Since the cabin has been moved and the house around it has been torn down, Foster said the next step is to order an inspection by the town’s unsafe building committee.

“If the property meets what it needs to meet, then we cannot go back to court. We’ll just dismiss it,” she said.

Lorenzo said the property would need to be properly cleaned up and made safe and the basement would need to be filled in for the case to be dismissed and the December court hearing to be canceled.

“It’s too bad it worked out the way it worked out,” council Vice President Terry Richey said. “The log cabin was really cool. It was really neat to see. The cabin was in remarkable shape, so much better than the house built around it had become.”

Kelly attended the July 5 council meeting and said the property has been for sale for several years, and no one had lived in the home in recent years.

Trees had grown to the point of covering up the front of the home, and the back was grown up, too. Council President Jason Hillenburg said the original four-wall cabin structure was “solid as a rock,” but the drop ceiling in the second-story portion had fallen on the floor.

The council told Kelly the town would pay for two appraisals and come up with an offer for the property before the July 19 court hearing, but that had to be continued so two appraisals could be obtained.

A special meeting was called Aug. 23 so the council could announce the appraisals and make an offer since the next court hearing was before the next regular monthly council meeting.

Foster said Kelly had posted the property for sale online for a while at $54,000, and it had been assessed for $89,000. Those numbers are well higher than the average of the two assessments the town received.

The town learned it would cost $18,000 to get the historic cabin out of the two-story portion of the home. The unsafe building committee had been going through the legal process to tear down the portion of the house on each side of the cabin and preserve the logs.

The average of the two appraisals for the 0.35-acre property came in at $31,375. Foster said the council previously approved using $21,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to put toward tearing down neglected properties in town.

Based on that, Councilman Jamy Greathouse made a motion to make an offer of $10,000 on the property and negotiate up to $15,000. That was seconded and approved.

If the town would have taken possession of the property, the council had discussed tearing down both sides of the home, taking the cabin out and making it a historical site and filling in the basement.

Foster said she would like to get a copy of a picture of the cabin to hang in the town hall.